Seriously, I could spend a long vacation in the words of Psalm 16. At first glance, it may seem unrelated to the other two scriptures, but hang in there with me and I promise it’s going to make sense and make us all happy in the end.
From the first verse to the last, Psalm 16 is filled with keys for living. But because my focus is on joy, I will zero in on these two brilliant verses.
“I have set the Lord continually before me”
This is an intentional action step and it doesn’t happen automatically or by default. It happens only when we choose to do it. I am doing this in the mornings: I will set Him before me; at the head of my day and the head of my agenda. However, I can clearly see some areas of my life right now where I am still in the lead position and each of those areas are marked by a distinct and dismal lack of joy. But I know that if I will set the Lord in front of these areas, I will know new joy. Also, I love the therefore here – it’s huge: Therefore (because I’ve done these things) my heart is glad and my glory rejoices and my body shall rest and confidently dwell in safety. I’ve talked with so many people recently whose bodies have just shut down under the weight of their circumstances and they’re dealing with stomach upset, ulcers, migraines and anxiety attacks. I’ve felt those things myself more times than I’d like to count. This scripture says, however, that putting God at the head of everything, will cause peace and confidence, even in our flesh-and-blood bodies. That’s a HUGE benefit and a true definition of real joy. (The “how-to” of making Him the boss is coming further down the road in this study.)
Then, the money verse:
You will show me the path of life (direction, vision, purpose, eternity); in Your presence is fullness of joy – at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
God’s presence – His living, active, sought-after presence – brings deep, overflowing joy. And check out this cool New Testament connection: Peter quotes this Psalm in his sermon in Acts on the Day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:25-28 – For David says in regard to Him, I saw the Lord constantly before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown or cast down (from my secure and happy state.)
I love the way it says that: “I will not be overthrown or cast down from my secure and happy state.” That’s unshakable, fearless joy. Peter is even proving this truth by speaking courageously to the same crowd that so recently crucified Jesus…the very crowd that caused him to deny even knowing Jesus just a month or so earlier. Wow – remarkable transformation caused by the joy of His presence.
Finally, I love this tiny Luke verse that just pounds this whole point home. It shows us the picture of two babies reaching out to one another from the womb. One is God-wrapped-in-flesh and the other will prepare the way for His arrival. They meet pre-birth and just that brief brush with the presence of Jesus, causes the former-still-and-silent John to leap for joy. Why is he leaping? I’m willing to bet it’s because he just can’t wait to get out and see Him…get to know Him…grow up with Him. That one brush with the presence of God would never have been enough for John – he was born hungry for more. (Interesting thing: down the road in John’s life – this love for the presence of Jesus is going to be tested and that story is going to deepen our understanding of real, true joy. Seriously, the bible is one big treasure map.)
We have to pursue the presence of God…passionately and purposefully, and the inevitable result will be abundant joy.
– Are there any places, decision or relationships where I have not set the Lord at the head of my life?
– Are there any other gods that need to go in order to release the real joy of knowing Him?